FINANS GÜNDEM MAGAZINE: "From finance to cinema"
(original article here)
Emine Dursun, an interesting entrepreneur-scriptwriter in cinema, had her education in a different branch and worked as an investment specialist.
Recognizing that her work has hold of her life, she decided to do her dream job, being a scriptwriter. Since 2008 when she made up her mind, she has come a long way. She worked with names such as Derviş Zaim, Mario Levi, İlker Barış; she took courses. She had her project accepted to the children network bibigon.ru in Russia. She attended Screen Writing Expo in Los Angeles that is the Mecca of cinema industry and met interesting individuals. She shares her experiences with us as the only Turkish scriptwriter to attend this year's expo.
You studied statistics, you got your master's degree on finance; you worked as an investment specialist for a long time. How did you make the decision to be a scriptwriter?
My pursuits during the university were the stock market and cinema. On my spare time or when I skipped a lesson, I used to go either to the cinema or stock market trading session room. I studied statistics but there were some amateur short movies we wrote and filmed when we were undergraduates. I thought that one did not need a license diploma to make filming; however, you needed a diploma for the stock market. After my graduation, I got my master's degree and started to work in the stock market; I realized that, let alone cinema, I had no time for anything, which caused me to take a dislike against it. I left the work and started to write again.
Are you content with that decision? Is life beautiful? :)
Very much content. The fact that my job is not bound to place and time makes me so happy and more creative. The ability to think analytically that I gained through my finance education is also important for scenarios.
How did you move forward then?
I joined the scenario team of a television series by means of an acquaintance. Then there was the economic crisis in 2008; many series were canceled and projects of many of them were suspended. During that period I kept on writing myself. As I kept writing, I noticed the deficiencies in my training and I received some training while the crisis continued.
What kind of training did you get, who did you work with?
I received cinema writing training from Derviş Zaim. Also from Digital Film Center, İstanbul branch of NewYork Film Academy. Then creative writing from Mario Levi. And for TV series scenario and dialogue writing, I have got training from the master İlker Barış, which I still maintain. Along with that, I participated in workshops and seminars of many famous individuals regarding scenarios within the expo in LA in USA. While I still think license diploma is not necessary, I reckon the training received from specialists is absolutely necessary.
What are the things that were challenging for you in this process?
Self-discipline was not something I was accustomed to. I incorporated that into my life.
What kind of projects did you do?
First, I started with a sit-com. I wrote a sit-com by myself when the crisis hit. I wrote a movie with Derviş Zaim, which started as homework and continued. Then some children programmes and another move last year.
Did you have any other projects outside Turkey? How did you make the connections?
I delivered a children program thanks to a producer doing business with Russia. I just talked to the producer and they made the connection. I had information regarding the place via a production company having connections with Russia. They do not produce anything but they are very open to purchases. They are very open to new (even old) ideas. The budget they set for this is much better than it is in Turkey. It seems wise to do business with the countries there via a reliable production company. They are more interested in 'ready' works filmed and finished here.
How did you decide to go to the expo in LA? Why did you choose it?
There was a movie project that I prepared. The cost was high for Turkey. I thought how it would be there and in line with the advice of a friend who is a scriptwriter there, I decided to go and observe the process there. My friend told me about the expo. I did some research and went there. The difference of the Screenwriting Expo is that it is the biggest. It is held many times throughout the year but the number of participating companies is like 3 or 5. It is very costly to go for a few negotiations. That’s why I attended this expo. There were more than 60 participant companies last year and more than 40 this year.
What did you do during the preparation period?
I went unprepared by believing in the people saying "You just need to go with your idea or summary". When I got there, I had seen that there were people with trailers, files and files of plans and details... This year, I went with my full scenario, numbers of summaries, CVs, some introductory work examples, etc.
Other than that, I had preparations such as interview organizations, workshop tickets, etc.
How were your days after you went there, how long did you stay?
The first few days were all about quick adaptation and rush following some fatigue. This year, I went there having confidence of my project. It was a period drama... The interview period in pitching sessions is about 5-6 minutes. In this period of time I tried to introduce both myself and the movie and to leave time for the upcoming questions. Some missing points may remain in this limited period of time. However, the sales can occur via the networks created outside the session. I tried to do my best about it as well. I tried to mention my project in every opportunity and to make use of the meeting environments where the minutes are not rushed. Expo takes 3-4 days but I stayed there later for quick feedback possibilities.
What was the cost of this trip?
The cost varies according to choices. The expo admission fee is 100$ when you buy it earlier but may reach up to 400$ when you buy it in the last minute. The interviews with companies are charged as well, varying between 15$ and 25$. Workshops and seminars are like 5-7$... Daily fee for the hotel is between 60-200$. Average meal fee is like 10-30$. If you search the plane ticket and buy it in discount, I can say the round trip starts from 800$...
How was the participation from Turkey?
Unfortunately, only me this year. Last year there were only 2 of us.
Why isn’t there much participation? What kinds of scenarios stand a chance, what kinds of scenarios one should go with?
I think nobody knows about it; I hope it can be spread for the next year and participation increases. I'm ready to provide all aid as far as possible in this respect.
All types of scenarios garnished with patterns from our culture but having a global topic and narrative have a shot, of course. The participant companies announce the type of scenarios in which they are interested. Like "We are looking for a drama/horror or only romantic comedy [scenario]".
What kind of feedbacks did you receive from the interviews you had?
I maintain contact with the prominent individuals whom I met there. Other than that, there have been no feedbacks regarding the sale yet; keep checking my e-mails...
Like other sectors, are there any consultants providing service for participation in fairs, funding projects, etc. in cinema industry? Do you think of consulting other scriptwriters with the knowledge and experience you have?
I don't think we have it or I haven't heard of it. I would like to provide consultation and aid I can do about this issue. Those who are interested can get in touch with me.
Can scriptwriters find sponsors and funding to introduce their works in such fairs?
The sponsors of the fairs have booths there. Those sponsors can provide movie sponsorship but not main sponsorship. However, there are no limits to the places that can be reached with the network opportunities.
Is there a well-known project that is discovered by any producer in this expo?
Babel, which was the Oscar nominee in best scenario in 2007, was sold in the screenwriting expo.
What kind of other alternatives are there other than the sale of the scenario for a movie?
Of course it is the final objective to sell the scenario to make a movie out of it. However, there are many alternatives other than this. They may purchase it to arrange it as an e-book. They can purchase the idea and use it to make a series or TV show or they can rent it for a period of time to put some thought on it and make plans accordingly. This can be on a monthly or yearly basis or cover a period of a few years.
Scriptwriters work with the agents as well, don't they?
There are many agents. One can get professional aid for every stage. There are companies which came only with ideas and turned them into synopsis and there are workshops and consultants working for its presentation.
How have been the things after you return Turkey after the expo?
E-mails are used to follow up the process. If they are interested in a project after the presentation, they request the scenario abstract and contact information. Later, they request the complete scenario via e-mail... I can say that all the communication is performed via e-mail.
Do you mind if I wanted you to compare to markets in terms of the process and system?
America is really the country of opportunities, at least for this industry. They are very open to new ideas. They primarily do not seek a background for this or they are not really interested in who knows who. If the work is really good, they do their best to make use of it. It's not that easy in Turkey. No matter how good the project is, some well-known people at some places can only open the door slightly. This place is like a closed circle. There are not many things that a housewife with a very good TV program idea can do here. However, even a man on the street has a chance due to some festivals.
I can say that they surpass us regarding the protection of rights as well. In the interviews that I had, the prerequisite to listen to my presentation was that my scenario or idea must be certified. And this is very easy. Writers' Guild of America (WGA) can carry out certifications online. The certification is sent via e-mail; you can go to interviews with the certification number obtained from WGA. Even if you say you trust them and the certification is not required, they keep themselves safe as per the rules and they make the certification mandatory not to suffer any troubles in the future. About 2 months later, you receive your certification with an original signature via a regular mail at your home. However, the certification number itself is enough, of course.
How is the funding found for projects?
It is easy to find support for the first movie both in Turkey and America. The difference of America is that this is way easier. There are companies allocating certain budgets each year. These companies are festival sponsors. Since there are hundreds of festivals there, the support is plenty. My advice is to decide on an objective, for instance saying 'I want to participate in Sundance', and to negotiate with many companies sponsoring Sundance; this can create some shortcuts. There are some rooted issues. Like "the road to this festival goes from that company", etc.
You have been to there twice; do you find yourself successful?
On my first trip, my only aim was to learn how things worked out there. However, when I got there, I wished I had come with files of projects. I met so good people and got support from them. I met with the scriptwriters of the famous TV series such as Dexter, House, and Nip Tuck. We had long conversations with John Cleese, the scriptwriter of the movie "A Fish Called Wanda". I had the opportunity to meet John August, who worked with Tim Burton in many projects. Each answer I got from the questions I asked them was a contribution to me. Apart from that, I had the opportunity to meet some people on top of the producer companies rather than their representatives. It's a fruitful experience to discuss my scenario with the companies like Universal Pictures, Warner Bros; even if I could only reach their representatives.
Being the only Turkish person there made me feel different; but also made me sad. I talked to Robert Skir, animation scriptwriter of X-Men and Spider Man and many other scriptwriters of animations. He asked about the status of animation in Turkey and said he could provide consultation services in this respect. When I researched its status in Turkey, I learned that the animation scriptwriters are mostly amateurs. They write among themselves, they do the job but we can't move forward.
Brainstorming with these people was a good experience.
What is your next objective?
I think of maintaining my participations in order to introduce my project(s) and to create the opportunity to work together. I wonder how the things are in Europe. I want to find out whether people are granted changes or not as much as it is in America. I want to evaluate every possible opportunity. Also, I want to take the joint productions here. There are teams with different experiences and knowledge, which are ready to cooperate. I plan to improve the joint work connections further, which I tried to do before.
VATAN /Newspaper: ''Great Award for Koca Yusuf”
(original article here)
Great Award for “Koca Yusuf”
WHILE Turkish movies return from the international festivals they participate with great success, a scenario got an award for the first time in an international festival. The scenario of the feature-length movie ‘Koca Yusuf-The Terrible Turk’, which is based on the tragic story of the legendary wrestler Koca Yusuf earned the great award from the 44th International Houston Movie Festival, one of the most prestigious festivals in the world. The scriptwriter, Emine Dursun, is very happy to win an award in an international scenario with her scenario on which she worked for 2 years. “The man is the strongest of the world. He has not lost for once. He is on draw for the first time in his life and after hours of wrestling, they are separated with police intervention. He’s a man with beliefs, wisdom. For him, wrestling is bravery. He lives according to his principles,” says Dursun.
WHO IS KOCA YUSUF?
He was born in 1856, Şumnu, Bulgaria. Yusuf, one of the legendary names in wrestling, got the nickname “Koca” [The Great] with is 144 kg body, wrestling skills and sportsmanship morals. Setting sail with French transatlantic La Bourgogne on May 21, 1898, passed away after the ship sunk in the northeast of New York on the morning of July 4th.
Award from Houston to the Movie Depicting “Koca Yusuf”
Taraf – 26.04.2011
The wrestling legend, Koca Yusuf, was on the mat again thanks to the young scriptwriter Emine Dursun in 44th International Houston Movie Festival, one of the oldest movie organizations.
The wrestling legend, Koca Yusuf, was on the mat again thanks to the young scriptwriter Emine Dursun in 44th International Houston Movie Festival, one of the oldest movie organizations. Emine Dursun, who scripted the life of our famous wrestler whom we lost during a sea accident in 1898, was awarded the 3rd place in Historical Movie Scenario branch.
The life of Koca Yusuf, which was named The Terrible Turk and scripted by Emine Dursun who was selected among 550 works in the festival in which the independent movie producers and directors participated from all around the world, both drew a lot of interest and gained appreciation. “The tragic life of our legendary wrestler ends in the middle of the ocean while trying to help people. Winning an award in the name of this terrific wrestler who never appeased from the values he believed in was a great honor for me,” says Emine Dursun, claiming Koca Yusuf’s reputation was given back in a matter of speaking.
MILLIYET CADDE /Newspaper: ''THE CURRENT SITUATION OF TURKISH TV SERIES''
(original article here)
THE CURRENT SITUATION OF TURKISH TV SERIES
Foreigners come because…Another production company, which discovered the fact that Turkish TV series started to do business in locations from Middle East to Balkans, even in South America, decided to open an office in İstanbul. Don’t be surprised if ‘Turkish TV series’ becomes a multinational occupation soon.
A young scriptwriter named Emine Dursun wrote a scenario named ‘Koca Yusuf’.
The scenario has won many awards in America up to now.
It is possible that foreign producers may film many TV series scenarios that have not been filmed yet, such as ‘Koca Yusuf’.
It is also possible to ‘control’ the series aired in Turkey with the changes made in RTÜK Law.
However, in the future, this ‘supervision power’ will cease to be within the hands of political authority with the Turkish TV series opening towards the foreign market before they are broadcasted in Turkey.The appeal of the Turkish TV series and the market it has created started to attract the actors from Egypt, Bosnia-Herzegovina, who only cooperated with Hollywood in the past.
CINERIUM / Cinema Magazine: ''One Day Workshop from the Scenario Writers Association (SenDER)''
(original article here)
One Day Workshop from the Scenario Writers Association (SenDER)
April 14, 2014, Time: 4.28 a.m.
The Scenario Writers Association, the host of the highly anticipated workshop which has provided answers for the questions on scenario writing, organizes a brand new one day workshop on April 19, Saturday.
Emine Dursun, who won many awards with her scenario “Koca Yusuf” in USA, will serve as the trainer of the workshop in which topics such as Pitching festivals, scenario competitions, WGA and options to sell scenarios abroad shall be discussed.
April 19th Saturday at 14:00-18:00, at Turkish Cinema Power Association Conference Hall in Şişli.
MEZUN.COM / Education Magazine: ''The First Turkish Scriptwriter to Win an Award in International Festivals: Emine Dursun''
(original article here)
The First Turkish Scriptwriter to Win an Award in International Festivals: Emine Dursun
In the 44th International Houston Film Festival on 8-17th of April, 2011; Emine Dursun was awarded the REMI Award with her first feature-length scenario which she prepared by framing from the life story of Koca Yusuf, a worldwide known wrestler of the time when he had lived.
In the award winning scenario, Koca Yusuf-The Terrible Turk, the successes of Koca Yusuf in wrestling in USA is told with a metaphor depicting that the wrestling matches are actually the conflict between the cultures of east and west.
Arzu Tekir, creator of "Wise Alpha" which presents a different point of view from the daily life, made an interview with Emine Dursun about the award she won.
Why Koca Yusuf? What affected you about him?
I read his life story as a big coincidence, I don't remember, maybe from the Internet. I was impressed because this man is the world's strongest man. As he has no losses, he has only one draw, which is the intervention to the match with the force of police. Beyond that, Yusuf is a man fed with his beliefs and wisdom, wrestling in the light of is. For him this is no sport or show; this is a display of bravery... He's man lived for his honor. He does not care about the money or the pleasures of the world. He's a character that is too strong to be real... And he's real!
His death is tragic, not the least. His death in Atlantic Ocean from the oar blows of the people whom he put on the lifeboat after the ship accident and saved their lives and at the end, by his hand being cut with a hammer... His saving the lives of other people before his own and getting murdered by the people he saved. The fact that the mentality which Yusuf fought during his life caused his own death... These affected me deeply.
How did you decide?
We have such a hero and many people do not even know it. This hero does not have his grave... I wanted to tell the story of Yusuf.
How long did you work take and which sources did you benefit from?
The project started to take shape in my head in the summer of 2009. In October, I had lessons "to create a cinema story from the real life" in Los Angeles from Erik Bork who has 2 Emmys and 2 Golden Globe Awards and worked with big producers such as Universal, Warner Bros, 20th Century-Fox, Sony Pictures..
After I got back, I implemented this and started the story. I took the primary flash points of Yusuf's life and framed the rest to be a cinema movie.
There was a point in his life story that was told with a single sentence all the time: "An American millionaire woman falls in love with Yusuf and wants to have his child. Yusuf becomes very angry at this, expressly refusing it by saying 'I'm not an animal for breeding'. He finds it sinful."
I created a character for this woman from this point. "She has Italian origins if he's rich, how could she know Yusuf?" I said. "She's a bettor," I thought. I formed the ground for the love story. I created passages to the life of this woman, 50 years after Yusuf's tragic death, and had her interpret the story as well. I used the thoughts of her falling in love with him, her rejection, her internal highs and lows and the fact that she could never have him. 40% of my scenario is real and 60% or more is fiction close to truth.
This woman became the typical example of the Western culture against which Yusuf fought. With the cultural background of Yusuf, this love became more and more impossible. The woman's love became traumatized inside with the tragic death of Yusuf when he was only 40.
I used the Internet as source a lot; I also read a few books about him. But the main source is his life story on the Internet because the novels include the opinions of the author.
Encyclopedias regarding wrestling, wrestling magazines I found from libraries...
It took one or one and half a year to complete it. Actually I still develop it. Because it won the award when it was a draft... I want to go over it a few more times; I'm thinking of sending it to other festivals.
There are a lot of people who won his first award in this festival. Could you remind us who they were?
There a lot of people who won their first awards in this festival, such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ang Lee, John Lee Hancock, Randall Kleiser, Ridley Scott, Robert Rodriguez, Robert Townsend, The Coen Brothers, Brian de Palma, Spike Lee, Oliver Stone and David Lynch.
When did you apply? Are there any other festivals that you applied?
Houston Movie Festival was the first one I applied. There are not any other applications but I'm planning to make new applications during May.
I applied with a delay at the middle of February. Normal participation period was over. I emailed them and said that I wanted to apply, they accepted.
What did you feel when they let you know that you won the award? How did you plan your trip?
I learned it late. It was the 1st of April, hence sounded like a joke. I read the e-mail again and again. The festival started on 7th. I shook off the surprise as soon as possible, organized in a week and went there. I had a visa from before, it was not a problem.
What are your plans for the future? What kind of projects do you want to be included?
I want to keep writing movies. The Terrible Turk was my first feature-length scenario. It's highly motivating for me that my first scenario won a REMI award; I believe it is the right path.
What are your favorite directors and movies?
Movies that are made in a plain way; I like them a lot. The first that comes to my mind is "The King's Speech". A simple subject, a scenario which is very delicate and progresses like a needlework.
I feel closer to European cinema.
Which movies did you watch at the festival? What did you do?
I was able to go to the festival when it was at the middle of it, 5 days after the start. "Time Expired" was the first movie I watched, USA production. "Re-Evolution", an England production, was an interesting movie whose scenario was written by dozens of high school students. "Fort-McCoy", and USA production costume drama based on a real story, was one of the movies that I was able to watch.
I met many independent producers and directors from many countries. I participated in the workshop of Randal Kleiser, the producer of Grease and Blue Lagoon, about details in cinema and directing. I participated in the seminars of the movie critics. Other than these, there were the NASA tour, regatta and Texas BBQ parties organized by the festival.
What was the thing that affected you must in this period, which you could not forget?
I very much liked that Consul General Akil Öktem and her wife Fevziye Öktem, Attaché of Chicago came to the award ceremony to support me and that they hosted a tea party next day; these created a good friendship.
In addition, it is impressive to see that the struggles of Yusuf in America and his fight against their culture received such respect after many years.
NTVMSNBC: ''They are participating in the Scenario Lab of Sundance''
(original article here)
They are participating in the Scenario Lab of Sundance
April 12, 2013
This year’s talents of the ‘Scenario Lab’ organized by !f İstanbul in partnership with Sundance, one of the leading independent cinema organizations, were selected.
The owners of the 4 projects selected will improve their scenarios under the consultation of those who are experts on their fields during the workshop to be held between 10th and 13th of May. The projects to participate in Sundance Scenario Lab 2013 are ‘Az’, adapted by Emine Dursun and Hakan Günday from the novel with same title by Hakan Günday; ‘Kaygı’, written and to be directed by Ceylan Özgün Özçelik; ‘Çekmeköy Underground’ written and to be directed by Aysim Türkmen and Şirin Güven and ‘Albüm’ written and to be directed by Mehmet Can Mertoğlu. The head consultant from Turkey will be Kutluğ Ataman. The scenarios of the projects selected will be improved during the workshop to be carried out in Büyükada during the duration of 3 days under the watchful eye of the expert consultants. The other trainers of the workshop are Noami Foner, one of the consultants from the Sundance Institute Scenario Laboratory; Howard A. Rodman, Art Director of the Sundance Institute Scenario Laboratory and Katherine Dieckmann (www.ifistanbul.com) – CULTURE-ART
TRT RADIO 1 : '' The first screenwriter ever to receive an award in an international festival''
(Original record here)
5:56 TRT: Emine Dursun; the first screenwriter ever to receive an award in an international festival, is our guest. Dear Dursun, hello Madam,
TRT: You have received an award in the International Houston Film Festival, which we will talk about; but first of all we would like you to tell us about yourself.
Emine: I have been writing screenplays for 2.5 years, the screenplay that received the award is my first feature film. Previously I worked in finance, I have an undergraduate degree in Statistics and I finished a master’s degree in Finance.
6:50 TRT: Did you trained to become a screenwriter?
Emine: Yes, I attended various classes and courses. These were various classes, courses and workshops I attended in Los Angeles as well as trainings I received from İlker Barış and Derviş Zaim. Most of these were about writing techniques and character development. I also attended a workshop on writing screenplays based on true stories, which helped me a lot when I was writing The Terrible Turk.
7:38 TRT: Is that how it occurred to you to write Koca Yusuf?
Emine: No, but it was around the same time. I had heard Yusuf’s story and I was very impressed. I worked on it for about 1-1.5 years.
8:16 TRT: Why did you choose to write about Koca Yusuf?
Emine: Yusuf is a very impressive character anyway. He is too extraordinary to be real but he is also very real. This impressed me a lot. Additionally, it was also important for me that he was not very well known. I unfortunately was not able to find many sources about him.
8:52 TRT: Can we briefly talk about his life story?
Emine: Yusuf was born in Thrace, Şumnu in the 1850s. After becoming a big champion at a very young age, he goes to Europe followed by an agent. He defeats all his rivals there and goes to America. After being announced invincible there and defeating the European champion; he embarks on a ship to return to his country and dies horribly in a shipwreck in the Atlantic Ocean. In 1898. This is not just about the story of his wrestling; it is also a film about Yusuf’s life story. What he represents is the eastern culture fighting western culture in the ring.
10:40 TRT: Yes, he was someone who lived with his beliefs and virtues. Did these qualities of his impress you?
Emine: He was a strong advocate of values that are not regarded as very important today. His struggle in Europe and America without even speaking the language is impressive.
11:29 TRT: How did you handle his life story in your screenplay? This cultural conflict?
Emine: Yes, the way I see it, Yusuf represents Eastern culture as the Ottoman culture. It is a culture in which people stand out, not money. The values of the opposite side are; “money talks” which is on the rise at that time, everything being seen as part of the show business; it is these values that he fights with in the ring. Also, the period that Yusuf dies in is the period that the culture that he stands up against began to rise. This created a strong metaphor.
13:15 TRT: It is a truly interesting screenplay.
Emine: Another point that is thrilling is that the award came from America, where Yusuf lost his life.
13:41 TRT: Can you tell us about the REMI award?
Emine: REMI is the name of the award at the Houston Film Festival. Houston Film Festival is one of the oldest film festivals in the history after Cannes and Toronto. It is an organization where many renowned filmmakers have received awards. Coen Brothers, Ridley Scott, Stephan Spielberg, George Lucas are among those who hold REMI awards.
14:45 TRT: How did you handle the story in your screenplay? The story being set in America must have been important.
Emine: Only 1/3 of the screenplay is the real story, the rest is fiction based on reality. There are not many sources about Yusuf. This is why I had to build reality based fiction; to strengthen the dramatic structure.
15:56 TRT: Do you have any initiatives to transform your screenplay into a film?
Emine: The transformation of the screenplay into film requires a high budget. Because it takes place in 1800’s New York, it involves a shipwreck etc. I am mainly in contact with American producers. I hope we can watch it on screen someday.
16:40 TRT: We hope so too. What are your next projects?
Emine: There are a few TV series that I am working on. I have just finished my 2nd feature film; I am in the process of researching stories for my 3rd feature film.
17:36 TRT: We hope it will turn out great. We would like to announce that to our audience from here. Dear Dursun, thank you very much Madam, thank you.
Emine: Thank you for your interest.